Lance Armstrong's former assistant, Mike Anderson, comes out swinging in Outside Magazine, telling the scandalous story of how his life was destroyed in a matter of years by an angry, manipulative, doping Armstrong — and it's the stuff tabloid dreams are made of.
Only, according to Anderson, it's 100 percent true.
The rest of the first-person piece delves into never-before-heard details of how Armstrong left ex-wife Kristin; how he took up with Sheryl Crow; the drugs in Armstrong's Spanish medicine cabinet; and the charades involved to avoid the World Anti Doping Agency.
Anderson, a graduate-school-dropout-turned-bike-mechanic got to know Armstrong and subsequently worked for him from 2001-2005 — just after Armstrong's battle with testicular cancer and miraculous Tour de France win.
But while Anderson was once referred to as "H2" (Husband #2) by the Armstrongs; the relationship took a nightmarish turn when Armstrong filed a civil suit alleging Anderson was extorting money from him. (Anderson maintains he was just trying to get Armstrong to live up to a business agreement and the issue was settled out of court.)
Now that Anderson believes he's suffered 12 years of defamation, he's speaking out amidst the anti-doping allegations that ultimately led Armstrong to be stripped of all of his titles and issues a lifetime ban from cycling. Armstrong supporters call it a witch hunt; a few former Armstrong insiders call it vindication.
I’m telling my story now because millions of people still look up to Armstrong as a role model. That’s their choice, and I think it’s possible he can emerge from the wreckage and continue his second career as a fundraiser for cancer awareness. But he needs to come clean at this point, and the people who support him need to understand that he isn’t and never has been a victim.
In the article, Anderson spends a great deal of time setting up his story with his own salt-of-the-earth background, as to prove his good standing. The rest of the first-person piece then delves into never-before-heard details of exactly how Armstrong left ex-wife Kristin; how he took up with Sheryl Crow; the drugs in Armstrong's Spanish medicine cabinet; the quiet visits with an Italian physician; and the charades involved to avoid the World Anti Doping Agency.
While Anderson writes a few times that he took the job with Armstrong in 2002 because he simply "saw it as helping a buddy" (to which I say — really?), he later cites the perks of the job as another reason he didn't run from the job when his moral compass went off upon spotting Androstenedione that day in Spain. A day which Anderson marks as the turning point of their professional and friendly relationship.
I'd made a commitment to Armstrong and I couldn't walk away from that — though, looking back, I wish I had.
According to Anderson, Armstrong had promised to invest in and promote a bike shop run by Anderson at the close of his two-year employment agreement. Anderson dramatically recounts the suspenseful scenes as Armstrong refused to honor what he saw as his end of the bargain.
Anderson's story is told with a sharp tongue, taking no prisoners in the Armstrong camp. Anderson, who has relocated to New Zealand, presents himself as the angel on one shoulder to Armstrong's devil on the other — a little too much, for my taste. And while I'm a fan of the people at his organization, Livestrong, I'm certainly not what you would call a Lance fan. It reads very dramatically, which I suppose is an unavoidable angle when a famed hero is taken down from his pedestal.
Anderson's got a score to settle, and now that Armstrong has given up his fight against governing agencies, he's been given the perfect opportunity to strike while the iron's hot and tell his side of the story — which may be all the retribution he needs.